Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chickie Garden Bento

This is a lunch the Muffin had on the weekend.  We had been looking at some cute bento boxes online, and she decided she desperately wanted "something cute with chickens in it".  So this is what she had:

Top Container:  One whole boiled egg (cut in half) with the yolks scooped out, mixed with a little yoghurt, piped back in and made into chickens.  Their wings are kernels of corn, their eyes are black sesame seeds, their beaks and feet are carrot, and they are sitting on a twiggy stick log amongst the (spinach) leaves.

Left-Hand Side:  A garden!  Pear leaves, carrot and apple flowers, and cheese and nori bees.

Right Hand Side:  Two bread and butter chicks with cheese wings and nori eyes.

I am linking this up with What's For Lunch Wednesday - go check out the other fun lunches!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Muffin Tin Monday - Weather Again

Yesterday was Muffin Tin Monday, and this week's set theme is Summer.  The Muffin wasn't convinced by the idea of an "I miss Summer" tin, and requested a Weather-themed tin instead.  We've done this theme before - a couple of times, actually - but it must be a favourite, as she wanted it again.  So here we are:

Top Row:  Sunny fairy bread;  Cheese lightning;  Carrot clouds (at sunset, obviously)

Bottom Row:  Yoghurt snow;  Macaroni cheese (for Hot);  Pear umbrella (for Rainy)

The Muffin enjoyed this tin (actually she helped choose everything that went into this one, so it wasn't really a challenge for her) - she ate everything.

Check out the other Muffin Tin Meals this week over at Another Lunch (the new home of Muffin Tin Monday!)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Panda Bento

Last week, Husband brought home a packet of those Hello Panda chocolatey-filled cookies.  The Muffin was so thrilled with them that I promised her a bento to match:

In addition to two Hello Panda cookie thingies, The Muffin had a panda face sandwich (with Vegemite for the black fur, and cheese eyes);  A pear with a panda face (this time the black fur was bits of prune);  string cheese & spinach leaf sticks of bamboo for the pandas to eat;  plus extra pear and prunes.

I am linking this up to What's For Lunch Wednesday.  Go check out all the other great lunches!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Muffin Tin Monday - The Ocean

Under The Sea is one of our favourite Muffin Tin Monday themes - we've done several variations in the past, but we never get tired of them!  So we were very pleased to find that this week's set theme is The Ocean!

Top Row:  Custard apple with a dolphin pick;  Pear fish;  Pikelet starfish with butter and jam.

Bottom Row:  Tortellini coral with rocket (ie arugula) "seaweed" and carrot crab;  Tortilla octopus;  Torellini coral with rocket "seaweed" and carrot crab.

The Muffin was very pleased with this dinner, and ate everything except the custard apple.  She ate three very small spoonfuls of that, and then said she'd decided she didn't like it.  Can't argue with that, I guess - she did give it a good try!  She also asked for (and got) more tortellini.

To see what other lucky kids ate this week, head over to Another Lunch (the new home of Muffin Tin Monday)!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My 200th Post!

Well, it's finally here - my 200th blog post!  Due to my incredibly erratic posting habits, it has only taken me four years to get here (!), but it has definitely been fun.

To celebrate, I decided to celebrate with a lovely little Raspberry Red Velvet cupcake, topped with Grand Marnier-laced Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Yum!  The cupcake recipe is from a book called Sparkle Cupcakes (which, if you so choose, you can purchase by following the link).  I've now baked just two of the cupcake recipes from this book, and honestly I find them not quite so light and fluffy as my usual go-to recipe (which is Billy Reece's Vanilla Vanilla recipe).  However, there are some wonderfully interesting flavour combinations in this book, and I will make more of them.  This RRV cupcake, for example, is delicious - I love red velvet for its beautiful texture and dramatic good looks, but the only criticism I sometimes have is that it doesn't really know what it is, flavour-wise.  Is it vanilla?  Is it chocolate?  What's going on?  Well these cupcakes don't dither at all - the beautiful raspberry twang comes through loud and clear, with a subtle chocolatey thing going on in the background... mm-mm!

Unfortunately I can't share the recipe with you, as it's from a cookbook and I don't like violating people's copyright, but to be honest it would probably be completely possible to replicate this just by adding some raspberry puree (or leftover raspberry coulis) to your regular red velvet recipe...  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!  Highly recommended as a flavour combination!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shiny Bento Giveaway at Bento, Monsters!

Check out all the amazing bento goodies that Bento, Monsters is giving away!

It's not too late to enter, if you're quick!  Click on over there Right Now (or by Thursday 6th of June) for your chance to win!  While you're there, you should totally check out some of the super gorgeous bento lunches that Ming makes for her boys.  She is SO creative!  My lunches want to be her lunches when they grow up.  :o)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Muffin Tin Monday - Space x 2

It's Muffin Tin Monday!  This week's theme is Perfect Picnic, and honestly?  I wasn't feeling it.  Winter has just kicked in here, so it's not really picnic weather, or even picnic food weather.  Plus, for a variety of reasons, we ended up getting takeaways for dinner tonight.  So I'll spare you the sight of my daughter's muffin tin filled with chicken nuggets, french fries, and bits of chopped up nashi, and instead I'll share those space-themed ones I promised you!

This first one is actually Star Wars themed.  We did it on May 6th (ie as close to May 4th as possible), as our household was at the time somewhat Star Wars obsessed, what with the party and everything.

Top Row:  Spinach leaf Yoda with string cheese eyes;  Grape asteroids;  Star cookie.

Bottom Row:  Spanish omelette with Darth Nori;  Ugliest Princess Leia Ever (made of spanish omelette);  Light sabres (carrot and string cheese).

The Muffin was thrilled with this tin - and it brought our own Star Wars week to a nice close.

The following week, The Muffin requested a space-themed tin, as her class is studying Space this term.  She particularly requested that Saturn and the Moon be included.

Top Row:  Saturn (one dried apricot stuffed inside another dried apricot, with dried apple rings);  Cheese phases of the Moon (The Muffin is very fond of the word "gibbous".  I cannot tell you how proud that makes me);  Rice pudding Moon (formed with a small icecream scoop).

Bottom Row:  Pear stars;  Potato and leek soup with bread and butter rocket;  The Milky Way (yoghurt with star sprinkles - this was also The Muffin's idea).

The Muffin was very pleased with this tin, and ate the lot, apart from the soup, which she didn't like.  I didn't really expect her to like it - she doesn't like cream - but this is one reason we like Muffin Tin Monday:  it means Husband and I can sometimes have dinners The Muffin doesn't like, without her having to have them, And without it seeming like I'm making her a completely separate dinner (because I refuse to be a short order cook - I don't think it does anyone any favours in the long run).  So she gets a little of what we're having, plus whatever else we decide on for her Tin.

Now go check out what other lucky kids are having this week, over at Another Lunch!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Muffin Tin Monday - Down On The Farm

Happy Muffin Tin Monday!  I haven't posted a muffin tin for a while, but we have been doing them most weeks.  In fact I had two to share with you today - one space themed, one Star Wars themed - but then I found out that the home of Muffin Tin Monday has changed.  The reins have now been handed over to Melissa over at Another Lunch, and the really cool news is, she has reintroduced scheduled themes!  Hurrah!  This is great news for me as sometimes I am lazy and can't be bothered have trouble thinking of a theme, whereas if one is handed to me, I am often more inspired to be creative.  It sounds weird, I know - being more creative when I'm not creating the theme myself - but I guess it's like finding it easier to choose something if you have less choices to choose from!

Anyway, The Point Is, this week's theme is Down On The Farm.  And since my daughter just loves animals, I decided to go ahead and join in!  I'll show you the space ones some other time, if I'm not really inspired by the official theme that week...

Top Row:  Hammer cookie (representing all the hard work the farmer has to do around the farm);  Chopped apple and pear with hen and dog picks (although the picks are not terribly visible in this photo);  Boiled egg Sheep with bocconcini head and legs.

Bottom Row:  Cheese hens with carrot details;  Bread-and-butter cow with Vegemite spots;  Carrot sticks for the ponies to eat (three of the muffin cups are paper ones with ponies on them).

I didn't take an After Shot this time, but she ate almost everything:  two carrot sticks and a few small bits of apple were left.  I was Very Proud of my sheep.  The Muffin pronounced it "too cute to eat".  Then she ate it anyway.  :o)

To see what other lucky kids got for dinner/lunch/snack this Monday, check out the new home of Muffin Tin Monday, at Another Lunch.  While you're there, have a look at some of her bento lunches;  they are super cute!

I'd also just like to acknowledge & thank Michelle (the Muffin Tin Mom) for hosting Muffin Tin Monday over the last few years - I have had a lot of fun joining in!  Hopefully Muffin Tin Monday has many happy years still ahead of it with its new host - and hopefully my girl won't decide she's too big for it for a long while yet!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May The Fourth Be With You...

Okay, so I'm a little late.

But on the fourth, I was kind of busy.  See, it's not only Star Wars day, it's also my birthday.  And also the birthday of my cousin's teenage daughter.  Since it fell on a weekend this year, we decided to share a party - and make it Star Wars themed!

This was our cake:

I know, he has no legs.  I was originally planning to make legs out of styrofoam and cover them with sugarpaste, etc etc, but time got away from me, and that never quite happened.  Nevertheless (and despite the fact that yes, I am aware his panelling is not absolutely 100% accurate), I am very happy with this little guy.  And with half of him made of Nutella mud cake, and the other half Margarita madeira cake, he was Most Definitely the droid we were looking for...

Oh yes, and there were cookies...

The goodies:
The baddies:

 Aww, isn't that sweet?  A family portrait...

I should say a quick thank you here to the Completely Amazing Callye of The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, as my Yoda, Darth Vader and Millenium Falcon cookies are direct copies of hers.  The other designs I figured out myself from photos of the various characters/Death Stars/light sabers.

In case you were wondering, The Muffin helped a little with these - she did Leia's and Han's hair, and also some of the stars.  And the other birthday girl helped out too - she filled in Darth Maul's face with red, and also did the red sections on Boba Fett - her first time with a piping bag!  We gave her a cake cookbook for her birthday after that (can you tell the children in our family are being steadily dragged into my baking obsession?  I Shall Assimilate Them All, mwah ha haaah!  Ahem.) 

I wanted to incorporate some of the more iconic characters from the new(er) movies as well as the originals, as I (as the "old") was dressing as Leia, while the Other Birthday Girl (as the "new") was coming as Padme.  So Amidala and Darth Maul were the obvious choices.  Amidala was a bit of a challenge...

It was very hard to avoid her resembling a Balinese dancer, I'm afraid, but in context at least she was easily recognisable.  Here's the whole gang:

I must say, the most amusing part of sharing this party with my not-so-little-anymore cousin was that she agreed to this party theme Having Never Seen Star Wars.  I am not kidding - I bet most fifteen year old girls are not such good sports!   So during the week before the party, we had her over for a sleepover, so she could stay up until half-past one in the morning watch Episodes Four and One (in that order).  Then she asked for all the spoilers, so in light of the impending party, we gave her a rundown.  She already knew about who Darth Vader is, but was completely (and hilariously) horrified to find out the true identity of Princess Leia...

"WHAT?  NO!  But... but... No, that's just wrong!  But she and Luke make SUCH a cute couple!!"
Too funny.  :o)

And in case you're wondering where I got my Leia costume, I made it!  Who wants to see?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Snow White Princess Cake

I know, I know, I'm sorry.  Worst blogger ever.  Honestly though, I have been pretty busy with other things lately, and even considered giving up the blog altogether.

Instead, I have decided I am going to try very hard to post something more often - even if it's just a picture of the latest thing I've been baking (or sewing!).  If less wordy = less time consuming, then that's the way those posts will be.  At the end of the day, you'd probably rather just see pictures of cake than listen to me ramble anyway, right?  :o)

So anyway, this is a cake I made for a little girl's 6th birthday recently(ish).  She wanted a Dolly Varden style Snow White cake.  I've never done a Dolly Varden cake before, so it was quite interesting and fun for me to try it out.  Here's what I ended up with:

Snow is wearing her classic outfit, all made from sugarpaste (ie rolled fondant icing), including the bodice and sleeves, which I stuck directly onto the doll.  The only things that aren't edible are the doll itself, her hair, and her crown (this is a plastic one that came with the doll, so I figured why make work for myself when the plastic one is just as cute anyway - plus the birthday girl can keep it for her other dolls afterward).  You can't really see it very well in the photo, but the little apple next to Snow was completely covered in red cake decorating glitter - it was super sparkly and looked pretty cool, if I do say so myself!  :o)

The cake underneath the skirt was chocolate Madeira cake, and I baked it in two sections - one in a pudding basin (for the shape), and the other in a regular round eight-inch cake tin.  I then stacked the pudding basin one on top of the round one and trimmed them to become one cohesive skirt shape.  This gave the cake a good amount of height.  If I had just used the pudding basin alone, she would have been a very short and stumpy princess!  There is of course such a thing as a proper Dolly Varden cake tin, but I don't have one, and I've also heard that they're quite difficult to work with.  Anyway, I found this method worked just fine.

Not sure if the method I chose for covering the skirt was the best one, as it was a lot harder than I had expected.  But I think the end result was pretty good for my first try - and the birthday girl and her mum were Thrilled, which is the important thing!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rainbow Cookies

Here are the cookies I made for The Muffin's birthday party:

Most of these were very simple.  The idea behind the shapes comes, once again, from the Rainbow Magic series of fairy books.  Each fairy has her own colour of fairy dust, which changes into a shape in midair.  Ruby the Red Fairy's dust turns into little red flowers, Amber's turns to orange bubbles, Saffron's to yellow butterflies, Fern's to green leaves, Sky's to blue stars, Inky's to indigo ink drops, and Heather's to violet blossoms.  So most of the cookies are minis, in these shapes and colours.   I wanted to keep them quite simple so that they would be more like, for example, a leaf shape rather than an actual leaf.

The rainbow cookies were made by using a large circular cutter, cutting the circle in half, and adding tiny cloud shapes... like this:

The rainbow stripes were piped on one colour at a time and given time to dry before the next colour was added.  Finally, I piped the clouds on using stiff white icing, to give a nice puffy-textured look to the clouds.  The clouds were also sprinkled with lots of white edible glitter.  I was really pleased with how these turned out, EXCEPT that as you may be able to see, I had huge cratering problems on the coloured stripes of the rainbows.  Oh well, it happens.  And none of the six year olds seemed to mind!  ;o)

Hope you're having a great week - I have been busy with some new Lollybright projects this week, including some very cute hair accessories, so I might have to show you some of those soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rainbow Magic Fairy Cake!

Phew, it's been busy around here!  Life is settling back to normal now though, with The Muffin back at school (she has just started Grade One - goodness my baby is growing up!)

The Muffin's latest obsession has, for a while now, been the Rainbow Magic fairy books, by Daisy Meadows.  For her birthday, she obviously wanted a Rainbow Magic fairy party.  I had plans to make a plain round cake and decorate it, but The Muffin had other ideas.  "Mummy can I have a Pot At The End Of The Rainbow?  With the fairies all in it?"  I warned her there would be a fair bit of black involved, which she was (somewhat surprisingly) fine with, and then we compromised on her four favourite fairies, rather than all seven.  In the long run, this was her cake:

I made a collage so you don't have to scroll through so many photos!  You're welcome.  :o)

The cake itself was white chocolate Madeira cake layered with raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (The Muffin's choice).  All the decorations were made from sugarpaste with a bit of CMC mixed in.  The fairies were made naked, and then their clothing and hair was painted on with royal icing.

Amber would have looked better suspended on white florists' wire rather than green, I think, but I didn't have any strong enough.  It was less noticeable at the party, as it wasn't against the white background!

I was very pleased with my Bertram The Frog:

But in the end, I actually think this was my favourite bit of the whole cake:

 I had racked my brains trying to think how I was going to do the inside of the Pot At The End Of The Rainbow.  Obviously it couldn't be hollow (with furniture in it), because then there would be no cake in it.  But I didn't want to just do it black, either.  This was quite a black cake for a six year old anyway, I thought!  And then suddenly I had a great idea:  what would you see if you looked into a pot full of Rainbow Fairies?  Why, rainbow colours of course!  And lots and lots of sparkles, obviously (which once again Do Not show up in photographs).  I thought it was quite effective, The Muffin was thrilled - and it was Super Easy.  Win-win!

We also had cookies - I'll show you those tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ballerina Alice Cookies

So I was a wee bit busy before Christmas, and never quite got around to posting these...

Last year was The Muffin's first year of ballet classes, and for the end of year concert, all the little ballerinas in her class played the part of the "little Alices" in Wonderland (this was part of a larger "Ballet Wonderland" item which spanned several classes and pieces of music - The Muffin's class did the part where Alice has shrunk after drinking from the little bottle).  It was very cute, and we were so proud of The Muffin for going out on that big stage and trying her very best!  She actually did a great job too! (because I am not biased At All).

So anyway, for the dance school's end-of-year party, I baked and decorated these cookies.

They were gone within about five seconds.

So it was a good thing that before the party, the White Rabbit and I had a little picnic first...

We also packaged a few up as a gift for The Muffin's ballet teacher - I thought she was going to cry!  The little ballerina cookies were made to look a bit like the costumes the little girls wore in the concert.  They were also sparkly, which Never Shows Up In Photos.  This is Very Annoying.

I really enjoyed making these cookies;  they were so cute, and (with the exception of the ballerina) they were super easy to make.  Most of the icing was 20-second icing, and all the black details were simply drawn on afterward with a food marker.

Want more Alice goodies?  You could check out my cupcakes from the 2011 Royal Show... Or just type "Alice" into the search field over on the right - we love Wonderland around here!

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